I went to the local hospital today and forked out $102 for a Cardiac CT Calcium Scoring test. Insurance doesn’t cover it yet. Even though it’s a fantastic diagnostic tool, it’s new.
Why did I do this? Well, my former sister-in-law having open heart surgery was the kicker for me. Added to that, my mom had had a stent inserted into her Carotid artery when she was about my age, and my bro had a stroke in his early 50s. I’ve been on “the usual” cocktail of meds for hypertension for the past 12 years.
In life’s flux, I KNOW ONE thing, and that is I owe my dogs my life. Sounds weird — even to me — but that’s what I learned from COVID. I have these two loving beings dependent on me, irrespective of the things I would like to do in my future, and I want a future. Living alone, this is really and truly 100% MY life even though I have friends who are definitely here for me. It is a matter of responsibility to myself.
The machine is pretty interesting. I think it might have been the first for me — though back in 1976, after I got hit by a truck, I dimly remember being in CT scanner to see if I had a skull fracture. Since I didn’t even get my name right after the truck, I am not sure what happened immediately after except some people picked me up off the street and took me to the hospital.
I was nervous today just being at a hospital, so my blood pressure was up. Normally, it isn’t. But, if my blood pressure were too high, the test wouldn’t work, so lying on the platform I did what I could to get my BP down. What was that? First I thought, “Go to your happy place.” I live in my happy place, so I imagined the Refuge with Bear on a wintry March day with the cranes. Then, I decided to recite poetry to myself and I recited Hopkins’ “The Windhover.” It worked and the test went fine.
The machine “speaks” — nothing too profound, just “Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, hold your breath….you may breathe.” Doesn’t sound like much but being in a metaphorical state of mind from reciting poetry, it seemed pretty significant. Continuing to breathe is the whole point.
The test will go to a cardiologist who will evaluate it and send the results to my doc whose name is Heidi. If there are problems, I have to/should/can make lifestyle changes. The nurse said, “If you want to. That’s your choice.” There are some things I could do without cutting off a body part, but I draw the line at cream in my coffee.
If you’re interested, here is a list of the risk factors.
- You are male and over 45 years of age.
- You are female and over 55 years of age, OR you have passed menopause or had your ovaries removed and are not taking estrogen.
- Your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55 OR your mother or your sister had one before the age of 65.
- You smoke OR you live/work with someone who smokes regularly.
- You have a total cholesterol level of 240 or higher.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You are 20 pounds or more overweight.
- You do NOT exercise at least three times a week.
- You have diabetes OR you need medicine to control your blood flow.
Here’s an article about the procedure. The featured photo is the two bull bison who live at the ranch in front of my hospital/clinic. The females and calves are separated from the boys for now. Along with the bison, I watched a retail hawk swoop down from a tree to pick something.
Here’s “The Windhover” — Hopkins was a Jesuit priest. I didn’t recite it perfectly but so what?
Gerard Manley Hopkins – 1844-1889
I caught this morning morning's minion, king- dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing! Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier! No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.